A British scientist put in solitary confinement in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) told Sky News that he was worried about a British footballer imprisoned in the Gulf State.

Matthew Hedges spoke more than two and a half weeks after Ali Issa Ahmad, 26, was arrested on holiday in the countryside from his home in Wolverhampton.

The dual British-Sudanese citizen may have appeared in court today, but immediate confirmation from the UAE authorities was not possible.

"I am [concerned] because it shows that there is a manipulation of the law to do justice to political means, to put it in a nutshell and say, "We do not like this kind of behavior, so we will do what we want," said Hedges, 31.

26-year-old Ahmad was arrested on January 22 in the Sharjah emirate. He is said to have worn a Qatar jersey at a football match – considered a crime in the United Arab Emirates.

The Gulf State denies this.

Ali Issa Ahmad was arrested on January 22 in the United Arab Emirates
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Ali Issa Ahmad was arrested on January 22 in the United Arab Emirates

His London embassy says he turned up at a police station that falsely claims he was beaten up for wearing his shirt when he actually did the injury

He says he made false statements and wasted his time on the police.

It is understood that Jeremy Hunt, the foreign minister, is following closely the case of Mr Ahmad.

However, Mr Hedges says he has little faith in the justice system of the United Arab Emirates.

Mr. Ahmad had seen the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup between Qatar and Iraq
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Mr. Ahmad had seen the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup between Qatar and Iraq

This view is shared by his Colombian wife Daniela Tejeda, 27, who fought for a highly successful campaign in public help secure the release of her husband.

"A confession should not be the only determinant for a case to be opened, let alone someone convicted," she said, sitting with Mr. Hedges on a park bench in London.

"We do not know under what conditions he (Mr. Ahmad) is being held or what he is told to confess, if there is no hard evidence, there is no reason why he should be detained."

Mr. Hedges, a graduate of Durham University, says he was forced to confess during the detention in the United Arab Emirates to be mistakenly MI6 officer or to be tortured.

Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada
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Matthew Hedges and his wife Daniela Tejada

His ordeal ended in November, when he was pardoned for diplomatic pressure from the Foreign Minister.

However, Mr Hedges and his wife want to know if the desire to maintain good relations with the United Arab Emirates prevents Great Britain from acting faster to help it.

They want the Foreign Office to conduct an internal review of the case's handling.

"The question I would ask is: are there any other interests here that have slowed or deliberately prevented this process?" he asked.

Hedges continued, "This is something we are trying to investigate more, we have applied for a FOI [freedom of information request] for information about my case. "

Mr. Hedge's wife, Daniela Tejeda, was fighting for the release of her husband
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Daniela Tejeda fought for the release of her husband

He believes that the United Kingdom may have had to engage in a similar diplomatic balancing act with him and the United Arab Emirates in dealing with his close relations with Saudi Arabia while responding to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The idea of ​​a United Arab Emirates influence or a wider influence on the UK's decision-making structure is, in my view, very unhealthy," said Hedges.

"We have certain values ​​and standards that we want to try and live for, and we should do so without interruption."

A spokesman for the State Department and the Commonwealth Bureau referred to the "Comprehensive Support Personnel" provided in the case of Mr. Hedges, including Mr. Hunt.

Matthew Hedges was detained by the United Arab Emirates for espionage claims while researching his doctoral thesis
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Matthew Hedges was detained by the United Arab Emirates for espionage claims while researching his doctoral thesis

Mr. Hedges says he is working with the government to break his conviction of the spy, as it interferes with his reputation and makes traveling difficult.

"It sounds good if you go to the pub or something, but the reality is much stronger and has a pretty harsh meaning," he said.

"It means that part of my integrity is always called into question, which means that my academic research is always questioned."

The conviction of an innocent man for espionage is also a sign that everyone could have the same problem should he travel to the UAE, he added.

As far as foreign travel is concerned, much of the world is no longer capable of doing so.

"You have to say" what kind of countries would be very interested in a convicted British spy "?

"Middle East, North Africa, Russia and former Soviet states, China – any authoritarian state in the world that can act with impunity, acts without legal justice and acts arbitrarily.

"It's something we have to take even more seriously with our personal safety."

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